The Appalachian Theatre of the High Country (ATHC) is joining the Junaluska Heritage Association to celebrate their historic community with a large window display at the historic landmark on King Street in Boone. The exhibit may be seen 24 hours a day, seven days a week until late November when it will be replaced with holiday-themed windows.
The display consists of historic photographs, artifacts, and signage compiled by Roberta Jackson and other members of the Junaluska Heritage Association (JHA), which works to preserve the only remaining African-American Community in Watauga County. Their mission is to assist interested residents of Junaluska in defining, preserving, and sharing the important history and culture of their mountain community and its origins. The Association also works with the residents of the neighborhood to help ensure the continuing viability of Junaluska as a vibrant and productive community.
Founded in 2011, and working under the auspices of the nonprofit Boone Mennonite Brethren Church, Junaluska Heritage Association is a community-based organization formed to preserve cultural heritage and assist in community growth. The Association works to help record and preserve the unique and rapidly eroding history of Junaluska and its surrounding area. JHA also works to assure the inclusion of that history as an integral part of the overall story of the town of Boone, NC and its home region.
A large placard in the display answers the question, “Where is Junaluska?” with additional signage about key aspects of the community including “The Chocolate Bar,” “The Baseball Team,” “The Community Quilt,” and “The Church on the Hill.” Each of these historic locations and events is illustrated with vintage photography courtesy of the Junaluska Heritage Association.
The centerpiece of the display is the recently-published book, “Junaluska: Oral Histories of a Black Appalachian Community,” edited by Susan E. Keefe with assistance from the Junaluska Heritage Association and published by McFarland, a leading independent publisher of academic nonfiction.
In the display, Jackson explains that the community of Junaluska is located in downtown Boone, just behind Queen Street at the base of Howard’s Know. In years past, the community was referred to as either “The Hill” or “The Mountain,” depending on how far up one lived in the neighborhood.
“After segregation was abolished by the Civil Rights Acts in 1964,” wrote Jackson, “locals began referring to the community as Junaluska, after Junaluska Road, which runs directly through it.” A map in the window display shows the areas location in relation to other areas of downtown Boone.
ATHC Executive Director Laura Kratt said that the theatre’s large display windows reach large numbers of folks in downtown Boone, including local citizens, seasonal residents, and visitors to the High Country who stroll up and down the sidewalks in front of the venue. It’s King Street location next to the Town of Boone municipal offices generates extensive “foot traffic,” and the display windows provide an opportunity for pedestrians to stop and enjoy each exhibit.
Kratt said, “Normally, the theatre’s display windows showcase upcoming events, but while we’re closed, we’re filling the windows with the faces of Boone. We’re shining a light on compelling community stories, like our recent Watauga High School performing arts graduates, the people of Hospitality House, and this month, the remarkable stories of our Junaluska neighbors. Roberta Jackson and all the great folks at the Junaluska Heritage Association created a wonderful display that will be up until November 20.”
“Boone’s history is rich and distinctive and we’re glad to help celebrate it,” said Kratt. To learn more about the Appalachian Theatre of the High Country, visit their website at www.apptheatre.org. For more information about the Junaluska Heritage Association, go to https://junaluskaheritage.org.